Moving away to university is undoubtedly a big step for many young people - perhaps the biggest difference being that mum won't cook for them any more! This invariably means that a lot of new students will live off of take-away foods, pizza, and toasted cheese sandwiches for breakfast everyday. I know, because I was exactly the same. Luckily, I lived in a share house with someone who could actually cook, so even if I ate badly throughout the week there was always the delicious house Sunday Roast to look forward to!
But it doesn't have to be that way. If you're a student now - or going to be in the next few years - then now really is the time to learn how to cook some really basic, healthy meals for yourself. As a male myself, a lot of us actually grew up with the impression that cooking was for girls. My school didn't even teach home-economics classes, because it was a boys only school and clearly boy don't need to cook - do they? But I'll tell you something now lads - the girls absolutely love a man who can cook! You think being the head of the basketball team makes girls like you? Not half as much as if you could cook!
You're not going to be the next Jamie Oliver overnight, but there are some ever so basic meals that anyone should be able to throw together, so I'd like to teach you some today.
First off, the quiche...
Quiches (sometimes known as a Flan) are basically just fluffy egg pies with some random ingredients thrown in for flavour.
- Some puff pastry or ready-rolled shortcrust pastry for the pie, 375g should do it
- 2 eggs
- 150ml milk
- 4 tablespoons of single or whipping cream, though extra milk will work at a pinch
- 100g of grated cheddar cheese
- Some kind of filling, I suggest 100g ham and 100g mushrooms for your first try!
- A pie baking tin
1. Leave the pastry out at room temperature for about 20 minutes so it'll be easier to roll into the tin. When you've done that, pre-heat your oven to 200°C, or gas mark 6.
2. Use this time to chop up your filling vegetables and meat. Not too small that you won't be able to taste it, but not so big either. It's up to you, so feel free to go all chunky with them if you want.
3. You should be ready to line the pie tin with your pastry now. Use a knife to cut away any overhanging bits, then you'll need to spread a sheet of cooking foil over it and bake it a little first. Why? Well, right now it's a little bit gooey, so we need to toughen it up a little before we put the egg mix in. Put it in the oven for 10 minutes and that should be enough.
4. While that's going on, whisk together the eggs, milk, and cream. If you've never cracked an egg in one hand before, now would be a good time to learn. Hold the egg like your hand is a claw, with your thumb and little finger clasping one half of the egg, and your middle 3 fingers clasping the top half. Tap the egg lightly against the edge of a bowl, then use your "claws" to pry apart the egg and spill the contents out, all in one smooth motion. I'm sure you'll mess it up the first time, so try again! Add a little salt and pepper too.
5. Final preparation step is top get the tin out of the oven, throw your filing meat and mushrooms in it, along with half of the cheese, then pour in the whisked egg mix. Finish the whole thing off with the rest of the cheese sprinkled on top, then bake for 30 minutes or until golden and firm to the touch.
Best served with a simple salad - speaking of which...
Easy Salad Dressing:
I used to really hate salads, because they were always served plain our house. Seriously, without anything on it, just the leaves. Which is a shame, because a tasty and healthy salad dressing is so easy to make and makes salad just so delicious. When I discovered this recipe, I ate salad everyday for two months, I kid you not. I was making up for lost tastiness.
Also, don't think a salad has to be sunny lettuce. There are a lot of other green leaves that are good for you and a lot tastier to boot. You can even grow almost all salad leaves in a one foot square area of your garden, or balcony - but that's another article entirely. For now, get some nice "rocket" and assorted "baby leaves" for your salad, and then on to a nice dressing. Find a small glass jar to mix it up in, and if you make too much you can always use it again tomorrow so don't worry too much about that.
- Virgin Olive Oil
- Whole grain mustard
- Lemon juice
- White wine vinegar
- Some minced garlic, or powder
- A little sugar, salt, and pepper
Fill about a tenth of the jar with a mixture of white wine vinegar, lemon juice, and a dollop of mustard. Fill a further third of the jar with olive oil, then add a teaspoon of garlic, and sugar. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Shake the jar vigorously, and serve. Don't drown the salad in dressing, though. Personally, I like to mix in some sliced black olives too, but they aren't to everyone's taste so do ask first if you're having guests.